Sarah Ruhl - "Letters from Max" - Poetry Foundation

Saturday, June 29, 2024 - 2:00pm - 5:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Sarah Ruhl

Playwright Sarah Ruhl will perform in and discuss her play Letters from Max in this staged reading hosted at the Poetry Foundation. A talkback and signing will follow the performance.

Hosted at the Poetry Foundation.

Tickets and information HERE

About the book: In 2012, Sarah Ruhl was a distinguished author and playwright, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Max Ritvo, a student in her playwriting class at Yale University, was an exuberant, opinionated, and highly gifted poet. He was also in remission from pediatric cancer. Over the next four years—in which Ritvo’s illness returned and his health declined, even as his productivity bloomed—the two exchanged letters that spark with urgency, humor, and the desire for connection. Reincarnation, books, the afterlife as an Amtrak quiet car, good soup: in Ruhl and Ritvo’s correspondence, all ideas are fair, nourishing game, shared and debated in a spirit of generosity and love. “We’ll always know one another forever, however long ever is,” Ritvo writes. “And that’s all I want—is to know you forever.” Studded with poems and songs, Letters from Max is a deeply moving portrait of a friendship, and a shimmering exploration of love, art, mortality, and the afterlife.

About the author: Sarah Ruhl is an award-winning American playwright, author, and professor. Her plays include Eurydice, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2010); The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2005; Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, 2004); Passion Play (Pen American Award), Orlando; and Letters from Max (based on her book with poet Max Ritvo). Her plays have been produced on Broadway and across the country as well as internationally, and translated into fourteen languages. Her books include Smile, a memoir, and 100 essays I don’t have time to write. She is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a PEN Center Award for mid-career playwrights, a Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, and a MacArthur “genius award” Fellowship. She teaches at the Yale School of Drama and lives in Brooklyn with her family.

About the director: Polly Nonnan is an actor and director, best known for her acting work originating roles in the plays of Sarah Ruhl. An Evanston, Illinois, native, Polly trained with Byrne and Joyce Piven at the Piven Theatre Workshop and is a proud alumni member of the Piven Young People’s Company. She has performed locally with the New Criminals at Piven, the Goodman, and Steppenwolf theaters; and regionally at Woolly Mammoth and Arena Stage in Washington, D. C., and the Women’s Project and Lincoln Center in New York City. As a director, she helmed the premiere of Carrie Luft’s Goodbye Stranger at Steppenwolf Theater Company, directed the Chicago premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musica at Piven Theatre Workshop, and assistant directed the premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Letters from Max at Signature Theatre in New York City. At the Poetry Foundation, she directed the reading of Sarah Ruhl’s Dear Elizabeth. She attended Vassar and the Art Institute of Chicago and has an MFA in directing from Brooklyn College. Also look for Polly in unexpected places, like the Lemonheads album cover and video of It’s a Shame About Ray and at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.


Event Location: 
Poetry Foundation
61 W Superior St
Chicago, IL 60654